New “multipurpose driveway and trail” coming to Tracey Elementary School

A look at the plans for Tracey Elementary
A look at the plans for Tracey Elementary School’s new multipurpose driveway and trail. (Courtesy of TMP)

During dropoff and pickup at Tracey Elementary School, located on Camp Street, residents have long complained about the queueing of cars down the street, blocking driveways and preventing residents from getting to and from their houses, according to council member Jim Frayer.

But it wasn’t just Camp Street that was getting backed up, council member Barbara Smyth noted. 

Camp Street is located off Rt. 1, and “Anyone who lives on the eastern part of town knows how bad that traffic can get on Route 1,” Smyth said.. “It’s really like a gridlock at dropoff and pickup.”

But that should soon change as the Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved allocating $396,940 to create a “multipurpose driveway and trail” on the field behind the school.

Nathan Fankhanel, a junior engineer with the city’s Transportation, Mobility, and Parking department, told the Public Works Committee earlier this month the department plans to “create an asphalt surface around the perimeter of the field, connected to the existing parking lot to allow cars during pickup and dropoff hours to queue.” 

He estimated the 12-foot wide, 1,000-foot-long driveway could accommodate about 40 to 50 vehicles in addition to the space in the existing parking lot. 

That will allow those bringing or picking up their kids from the school to “be completely inside of the school’s property and not spilling out onto Camp Street where we’ve been receiving complaints from local residents,” Fankhanel said. 

During the hours outside of pickup and dropoff, there will be a gate that can be closed to allow the surface to be used for extracurricular activities, such as running or walking a mile around it as a part of gym class, Fankhanel said. 

Frayer called it an example of “creativity on the part of Public Works and TMP.” 

Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner called it a “fascinating” solution and asked if this could be used at other schools, since the city gets complaints about school traffic in other areas as well.

Fankhanel said the team recently looked at Jefferson Magnet School, but noted “that one’s a little bit trickier, they don’t have as much property” as Tracey does. He also said Tracey was unique because the city and not the school owned the field behind it, so the city departments could decide what to do with it. 

He also said that as a part of the driveway, they’re installing a drainage system that “incorporates rain gardens and other green infrastructure” to address any potential runoff from the driveway. 

The goal is to construct the driveway this summer, while students are out of school, Fankhanel said. 


One response to “New “multipurpose driveway and trail” coming to Tracey Elementary School”

  1. Becca Stoll

    I’m all for traffic calming measures, but why don’t more parents also send their kids to/from school on the school bus? Shorten the queue, lower the carbon footprint, win-win.

    I know it’s different growing up in NYC (as I did), but the school bus was where I made some of my first real friends, and I cherished the social aspect of my childhood commute.

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